To demonstrate their commitment and determination to make a serious statement at the upcoming Cosafa Regional Cup – the Brave Warriors resolved to arrive in South Africa a week ahead of their opening match against the Seychelles.
The team assembled in Pretoria where locally based players reunited with Namibia’s foreign legion plying their trade in the South African Professional Soccer League (PSL).
However, the team was dealt a major blow with news that veteran striker Henrico Botes would not be available for selection after his South African club Bidvest Wits University pulled the plug on the unsuspecting Namibians.
A clearly shocked Brave Warriors mentor Ricardo Mannetti expressed disappointment and dismay over Wits’ refusal to release the player for national duty.
“They claim it’s not a Fifa date and are therefore not obliged to release the player, notwithstanding the fact the club is not involved in any competitive football, so I don’t understand the rationale behind their refusal,” said a furious Mannetti.
He says he is obliged to add another striker to the squad and was expected to have found a suitable replacement by yesterday.
“Unfortunately I can’t fault the boy but we have lost a quality player and an in-form striker. It’s not easy to replace him but it opens a door for another player.”
Gaborone United’s free-scoring striker Benson Shilongo is yet to report for the training camp as a result of club commitments in Botswana and is expected to join the rest of the squad after the opening game against the Seychelles.
The Warriors are based at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria before departing for Moruleng, to start their assault in the regional tourney against the unknown Seychelles at the Maruleng stadium in North West Province on Sunday.
The well-balanced Warriors boast a mixture of relatively young and inexperienced players and tried and tested stalwarts. The squad consists of goalkeepers Virgil Vries and Max “Slimkat” Mbaeva; defenders Dudes Mwedihanga, Chris Katjiukua, Denzil Haoseb, Ananias Gebhardt, Gregory Aukumeb, Dennis “Law” Tjetinda; midfielders Neville Tjiueza, Ballack Somaeb, Pikes Shalulile, Stigga Ketjijere (c), Wangu Batista Gomes, Joslin Kamatuka, Petrus “Dancing Shoes” Shitembi, Deon “Deep Purple” Hotto; and strikers Nicky Musambani, Sadney Urikhob and Benson Shilongo.